Scoliosis Body Image

what my scoliosis journey taught me about body image

I went through a life-altering surgery, but what really changed the most was the way I saw myself.


We're all guilty of viewing ourselves under a microscope, so much closer than anyone else sees us. We find small flaws within ourselves and magnify them far beyond their true size, holding ourselves to impossible standards. This is how I saw my scoliosis. Even though my friends claimed that they couldn't tell, I couldn't get past the feeling that I was noticeably deformed. Over time, this thought began to intrude into my daily life. Clothes that I had once loved made their way to Goodwill piles because I no longer thought I could "get away with" wearing them. I avoided going to the beach and pool because I didn't want anyone to see me in a swimsuit. The worse my scoliosis became, the less confidence I had. Eventually, I got rid of all my crop tops and form-fitting outfits and exclusively wore oversized thrift store sweaters to hide my torso. I thought I would have to deal with scoliosis for the rest of my life, and I didn't see a way out of my insecurity. I made up my mind to live with it, but deep down I worried that I would never truly love my body with scoliosis.

Halfway through my junior year of high school, about five years after I was first diagnosed with scoliosis, my spinal curve had progressed to a severe 62 degrees (surgery is usually recommended for curves of 45 degrees and above). I decided that spinal fusion surgery was the best choice to eliminate pain and avoid future health problems. Though spinal fusion is not a cosmetic surgery, it obviously comes with the cosmetic benefit of a more "normal" looking body. Once the surgery was on the horizon, I couldn't help but dream of finally being happy with the way I looked.

The surgery was pretty painful and ugly, but I think I'll always remember the first time I looked in the mirror afterward. It was my second day in the hospital, and I gathered the strength to walk to the mirror with my IV pole in tow. I was so eager to see how I'd changed, and I was not disappointed. For the first time in as long as I could remember, I actually liked my body. I didn't stand there and pick out flaws or tear myself apart. That was an amazing feeling.

The truth is, I don't really know how drastically my physical appearance changed due to the surgery. What I do know for sure is that I feel happier in my body now, and it shows. I stand taller and wear clothes my own size. Friends and family compliment me and tell me I look much better now, but I honestly think it's because I feel much better now. I'm finally happy in my body, and my newfound confidence shines through from the inside out.

My scoliosis journey taught me so many life lessons, and here's what it taught me about beauty: It's not about how you look, it's about how you see. I went through a life-altering surgery, but what really changed the most was the way I saw myself. Though I will always have insecurities, I've learned to appreciate and be thankful for the body I have. Unconditional self-love is really difficult to achieve, and most of us will spend our whole lives working toward it. I don't know I'll ever get there, but at least I've taken a really big step in the right direction.

Cover Image Credit:

Personal Photo

Popular Right Now

A list Of 15 Inspiring Words That Mean So Much

A single word can mean a lot.

Positivity is so important in life. A lot of times we always go to quotes for empowerment but I have realized that just one word can be just as powerful. Here is a list of inspiring words.

1. Worthy

Realizing your self-worth is important. Self-worth can really make or break a persons personality. Always know that you are worthy of respect. And also, never compare yourself to others.

2. Courage

Be courageous in life. Life has so many opportunities so do not be scared to grasp any opportunity that comes your way. You have the ability to do anything you have your heart and mind set to do, even the things that frighten you.

3. Enough

When you are feeling down and feeling that nothing you do is ever good enough, know that you are more than enough. And yes there is always room for improvement but when it comes to my self-worth I always have to remind myself that I am enough.

4. Blessed

Be thankful. A lot of times we forget how blessed we are. We focus so much on stress and the bad things that are going on in our lives that we tend to forget all of the beautiful things we have in life.

5. Focus

Focus on your goals, focus on positive things, and focus on the ones you love. Do not focus on things that will keep you from not reaching your goals and people that do not have good intentions for your life.

6. Laugh

Laughing is one of the best forms of medicine. Life is truly better with laughter.

7. Warrior

Through the good and the bad you are a warrior. Be strong, soldier.

8. Seek

Seek new things. Allow yourself to grow in life. Do not just be stuck.

9. Faith

During the bad times, no matter the circumstances, have faith that everything will be all right.

10. Live

Start living because life is honestly way too short. Live life the way you want to live. Do not let anyone try to control you.

11. Enjoy

Enjoy everything that life has to offer. Enjoy even the littlest of things because, as I said before, life is short. And plus, there is no time to live life with regrets.

12. Believe

Believe in yourself and never stop. Believing in yourself brings so many blessings and opportunities in your life.

13. Serendipity

A lot of times we look for things to fill an empty void that we have. Usually what we are looking for comes when we are not looking at all. Your serendipity will come.

14. Create

Share your ideas with the world. Creativity brings change to your life. However you chose to use your creativity do not be scared to show your intelligence, talent, and passion.

15. Love

The world is already full of so much hate, so love unconditionally with all your heart.

Cover Image Credit: Tanveer Naseer

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Part 1: Necessary Changes

One of my favorite movies is "Fried Green Tomatoes" with Kathy Bates. In the movie Bates' character Evelyn Couch says, "Someone helped put a mirror up in front of my face, and I didn't like what I saw one bit. And you know what I did? I changed." I know the feeling.


I looked in the mirror over the weekend and didn't like what I saw.

The person I saw looking back at me is petty, selfish, manipulative, and unattractive. It wasn't that I hated what I saw, but I definitely didn't like what I saw either. It's a surreal feeling, looking at yourself through a critical lens, and it doesn't make you feel good in any way shape or form.

The image that I see of myself is not how I want others to perceive me. I want to be someone that people look at and see kindness, compassion, strength, and confidence.

I have enough general life experience to know that these types of changes aren't going to happen overnight, and not all of them will be physical; most of these will have to happen from the inside, from within myself.

When you find out you are all broken and damaged, it's hard to know where to start putting the pieces back together. I figured the best place to start would be the most literal: my actual insides; so, I decided to embark on a deep-cleansing journey to get all of the toxins out of my body, from the inside out.

I found this book on 10-day green smoothie detox stashed away in the dark corner of my bookshelf. The science behind it seems accurate and legitimate. By eliminating certain foods, your body is able to detox itself off of chemicals and foods that are slowing down your metabolism; the smoothies are specifically designed with combinations of foods that help restart your metabolism. Part of the detox process is getting rid of all dependencies on caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.

Every day you are given the recipe for a specific smoothie; you make the smoothie (about 40 ounces) and sip on it throughout the day whenever you get hungry. Every smoothie is a combination of leafy greens, water, fruit, and flax seeds. If you do happen to get hungry throughout the day, you are encouraged to eat raw nuts, hard boiled eggs, and a wide variety of crunchy green vegetables. There is also a detox tea that you have first thing in the morning, but other than that no other beverages are allowed except water.

I know that this is only the beginning of a very long, emotional, and draining journey. But I think I'm at the point in my life where I have to make these changes. I have to put my pieces together, I have to become a normal functioning adult, I have to find out who I am. I think that this is the perfect way to start.

For the next 10 days I am going to be documenting my experiences, how I'm feeling, what my emotions are doing, and any results that I see.

Stay tuned!

Related Content

Facebook Comments